There is a connection between more than 50 productions of the Montreal First Peoples Festival that goes beyond the cinematic language: it is the voice of native peoples, whogather every year at a festival that is able to connect the best movies in the world with the first peoples.
Canada, United States, Australia, Polynesia, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Guatemala, Mexico and even Spain and Germany have a privileged place in this exhibition which emphasizes the documentary, main identity of the festival,and fiction, a genre that covers almost 50% of productions that are presented.
With the echo from the peaceful protest movement “idle no more” (http://www.idlenomore.ca) that emerged strongly in the month of December, the Festival kicks off its 23th edition with the intention to give visibility to the aboriginal voices, to fight against passivity, to give to participants the opportunity to express their demands and their sovereignty, and, finally, to convey something unique as the culture.
According to the director of the show, André Dudemaine, the emphasis of the festival is a fragile boat, which cultural identity is, that connects us with the ancestral and with the possibility of leaving a legacy for the sake of posterity. This is unique Festival that may be not among the biggest ones, of course, and far from the huge budgets of major international events, but it is a unique combination of experimental cinema productions related to native peoples.
These are the topics of the focus for most of the tapes that are projected during the Festival, an event in which we had the opportunity to attend the world premiere of two films: the U.S. “Winter in the Blood” (http://winterinthebloodfilm.com) and the Canadian production “Les ailes Johny May” (http://vimeo.com/19290999), and also the documentary “L’Esprit rail Mitchif et dumont”.
Precisely, the U.S. production “Winter in the Blood” ((http://winterinthebloodfilm.com) has been awarded with the Grand Prize Teueikan. It is a movie filmed by Alex and Andrew Smith and is based on the first novel of James Welch (a poet, essayist, screenwriter andAmerican native). The movie is starred by Chaske Spencer, David Morse and Julia Jones, and it has the seal of the official selection film Festival from Los Angeles. “Winter in the Blood” has been distinguished by “bringing to the screen, with courage and fidelity, a story that marks the flourishing of contemporary Native American literature. The film shows the emotions and the journey of an anti-hero combining irony and distance, already reflected in the novel. This therapeutic odyssey also gives us clear references to classic American movies and it criticizes a situation that is repeated in many indigenous communities: the lack of adaptation, alcoholism and isolation.
The Second Teueikan Prize of this edition took the German production “Heart of Sky, Heart of Earth” (http://www.heart-of-sky.com/), a creative documentary highlighted by the jury for “its lyrical character, for keeping thing that matters in the center of the scene: real humble men and women who are leading the legacy of ancient, their wisdom and their worldview to their daily lives”. The beauty of the images projected in the film gives the viewer the opportunity to experience the Mayan culture perception about the nature balance. This movie is a review of the Mayan speaking about the change of a cosmic cycle rather than the end of the world. This production involves the public in a spiritual atmosphere that let the movie to be honored with two awards: Best Cinematography prize and the Séquences Documentary Prize (Best Documentary Prize).
Culture and tradition, heritage and future are some of the characteristics remained in the movies that have been part of the Festival. One of the main focuses is also the protest: the language of cinema in service of communication for expressing the difficulties faced by natives communities, like the fight for their territory, the discrimination and the need to report events that stayed unpunished. There is also the factorin the Festival that has been highlighted by the social prize, the Prize Rigoberta Menchú, for the U.S. production “Gold Fever”. (http://www.goldfevermovie.com) This movie shows “how the North American corporation, driven by an unhealthy thirst for fold, closes its eyes to the reprehensible activities of the groups mining for it. For its compelling portrait of brave women who defend the Maya people’s territorial rights”.
The Second Prize handed by Rigoberta Menchú to “Point of Fuite”, by Stephen A. Smith and Julia Szucs, “for succeeding in portraying commensurate with beauty, the strength of the founding tales of the Inuit nation, for giving a voice to Navarana, the direct descendant of the great shaman Qitdlarssuaq, for this appeal to the forces of the earth and the sky That Appear That Can Flashpoints today as light the road to the future.”
Among the highlights of the jury, excels “We Giants” by Victor Navarro, “for an unconventional use of animation which emphasizes the incantory aspect of the stories the Conca’ac tell, inspire Both by Their worldview and recently imported traditional Christianity, for incrusting a graphic depiction of the Stories Told in the Sonora region into its coastal landscapes, for transposing an Amerindian culture’s collective imagination into a purely cinematographic language “.
It is about powerful stories, stories that consolidatethe union between ancient tradition and contemporary reinterpretation, but they are also stories to ensure, through the First Peoples Festival, the continuity of indigenous cultures worldwide. Tales introduce us to a new edition of the Festival, the following yearthat will amuse and make us feel the way native peoples do.
This article has been written by Luis Soldevila from Webmetrics Spain in collaboration with Taylor Film Reviews. For more information on the festival see this website: http://www.presenceautochtone.ca/en/home